Greening Your Transportation, Saving You Money

Looking to own one less car?  Dealing with parking issues at your business or organization?  Wondering how to get started (or get your employees started) walking, biking, carpooling, or taking public transit?

Or is your firm interested in collaborating on a bicycle, pedestrian, or transportation demand management project or program?

Owned and operated by Sarah Cushman – a transportation planner, educator, consultant and former ASE Master-Certified auto technician – Cushman Transportation Consulting, LLC serves as a source of solid information and help with planning, promotion, and making transportation choices and changes.

Sarah offers:

  • Exploration of individual and organizational transportation needs and financial impacts
  • Training and consultations for using – and planning for and encouraging the use of – alternate transportation (biking, carpooling, taking public transit, walking, telecommuting, etc.)
  • Environmentally-responsible and financially savvy car maintenance and driver education
  • Bicycle, pedestrian, and Transportation Demand Management project and program assistance

The bad news we all know: fuel costs are rising, an average of 19% of individual income goes to own just one vehicle, heavy financial burdens are being put on businesses and tax-payers for roads and parking, obesity rates are soaring, and 40% of local air pollution and climate-changing carbon emissions comes from transportation sources.

But the good news is that organizations and individuals have practical transportation alternatives – that save money and improve public and environmental health.

Planning & engineering firms & TDM organizations – learn more here.

Businesses and organizations – learn more here.

Individuals and families – learn more here.

October 10, 2008 at 10:34 am

Take a Holiday Season Bus Ride to the Lakes Region for Free!

LakesRegionbus mapWho’s up for trying out the new Lakes Region Bus Service?  I am!  After a number of months of hard work and preparation by RTP (Regional Transportation Program) and local advocates, the service starts on Monday, November 25. I’m thinking of throwing our bikes on the bus and taking a family bus ride out there – maybe after the Thanksgiving holiday (no service on Thanksgiving, the Friday after Turkey Day, or Christmas).

Service runs Monday through Friday between Naples and Portland, 4 times a day in both directions – with free transfers to both METRO and South Portland Bus Service.  The buses have a bike rack (likely for two bikes), are ADA-accessible, and have WiFi.  See here for the route map, stops information, time schedule, and more general info on the service.  

Rides through the end of 2013 are free – a great way to get folks to test drive the system.  (After that, all trips will be $3, which is a bargain and similar to Shuttlebus/ZOOM rates between Portland and Saco/Biddeford.)

If and when you try out the service, definitely let us know what you think in the comment section below.  And for any questions or feedback, contact Dan Goodman at RTP, formerly of GoMaine fame.  I’ll post an update and photos when I get a chance to check it out myself.

November 21, 2013 at 3:45 pm Leave a comment

How Important is Public Transit to You?

Get on the Bus - mother & daughterHow important is public transit to you?  For myself and many folks I know it’s a critical component to reducing household vehicle costs (one less car) and offering reliable transportation to work.

It’s also misunderstood by many. (Why can’t we have more frequent service?  Why doesn’t the bus go where I want it to go? Why can’t rider fares pay for the service – why does the bus have to be subsidized?) Simplified answers: Funding, Funding, and Funding (well, and all transportation is subsidized, including the car I drive.)

MaineDOT is conducting a statewide effort to gather information on the wants, needs and willingness of the general public to pay for public transit in Maine.

They are using the following methods to do so:

  • A  phone survey to derive some statistically significant information
  • Soliciting feedback through via email at transit.mainedot@maine.gov
  • Holding the following public transit summits (one of which has already occurred):
    • Region 1 – November 7th – 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm – UMPI, St John Room, 181 Main St., Presque Isle
    • Region 2 – December 3rd – 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm – Ellsworth City Hall – Auditorium, 1 City Hall Plaza
    • Region 3 – November 12th – 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm – Bangor Parks & Rec, 647 Main St.
    • Region 4  – October 17th – 9:00 am to 11:30 am – Waterville Armory, 74 Drummond Ave.
    • Region 5 – October 31st – 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm – UMaine Hutchinson Ctr, 80 Belmont Ave., Belfast
    • Region 6 – November 14th – 3:30 pm – 6pm – Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square
    • Region 7 – December 10th – 3:30 – 6pm – Auburn Public Library, 49 Spring Street
    • Region 8 – November 13th – 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm – Trafton Center, 19 Elm Street, Sanford

Hope some of us can make it to these.  And if not, please weigh-in to the DOT via e-mail and definitely answer the phone if they call.

Editor’s update from 11/14/13: I arrived at the Summit in Portland at a little after 3:30 today to discover the meeting was just ending and that it had actually been scheduled from 1-3:30pm – agggh.  I just checked and the e-mail I got from a State Rep had the time listed as I had listed it above.  There were other folks arriving, too.  So sorry it was wrong – how frustrating for all of us! 

I’m going to e-mail the DOT contact for more information and any additional way for us to give input.  I’ll also check on the rest of the dates while I’m at it. Shoot me an e-mail if you’d like a copy of anything that they may pass on and I’ll send it your way.

October 23, 2013 at 3:25 pm Leave a comment

Registered Your Bike with the Police Yet?

ampezzan2I was biking over to pick up my daughter from her first day at East End Community School last week and was greeted by Officer Tony Ampezzan at the bike rack, asking if I had registered my bike with the police and whether I would like to do so.  (I realized I had registered a previous beater bike, but not the one I purchased a couple years ago for our big family bike journey.)

For the past several years, the Portland Police Department has had an online registration for bikes – so that if, heaven forbid, your bike is stolen, you can report it and they have key information to go on.  Pawn shops and others are supposed to check the registry before selling a bike, and the police use the registry themselves when they recover bikes and before they sell any at auction.

Officer Tony, who is our local Senior Lead Officer and also a bike patrol officer, proceeded to ask me a few simple questions, helped me flip my bike over to find the serial number, and scribbled some notes on his pad.  He then asked other parents and kids who showed up for their bikes.  I thought it was a friendly way for our local police to reach out and welcome folks back to school.

Bike registration serial numberOne of the key bits of info to capture (besides make, model, color, and any distinguishing characteristics of your bike) is the serial number of your bike. This is often found pressed into or otherwise marked on the underside of the pedal crank hub on most bikes.  For that and other possible serial number locations, see this lovely diagram from our friends at the University of Austin (well, really I’ve never been there, but I liked the graphic).

Officer Tony said they’ve had a rash of bike thefts this past year, to the point that they’ve actually set out some sting bikes to try to catch who’s picking them up.  I asked if my thick cable lock is too wimpy – i.e., that I really should be using a U-Lock.  But his response was that a good number of the thefts reported are for unlocked bikes, so any lock is better than none.

Either way, if you live in Portland, register your bike today to greatly increase the likelihood that it is returned to you if it’s stolen!

And anyone should comment below if you know bike registration is possible through Falmouth, South Portland, Westbrook or other local police departments.

September 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm Leave a comment

Crowd-sourcing for Bike Parking – Where Do You Need It?

Lollypop-bike-stand-2Ever had trouble finding a place to park your bike somewhere in Portland?  I always feel that way when I visit the Rite Aid on Congress across from the old Cathedral School (can’t fit my cable lock around those huge shopping center columns).  Or when I attend an event at the Abromson Center at USM and there’s only a utility sign post to hook up to out front (from my understanding of it, the University powers-that-be were unwilling to sacrifice a parking garage spot for bike parking – although the official story is that it’s because of liability concerns.)

So here’s your chance to let the City know where you need bicycle parking! The Bike Parking Subcommittee of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee has set up a Google Map page to “crowd-source” locations where bike parking is needed. It does require a (free) Google account, but they decided it’s probably the best way to go, given simplicity and ease of use.

Here’s the link to go to work.  Just drop a pin at locations where you think bike parking is needed or should be increased.  Bruce Hyman, the City Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, says that the city is looking to install new racks this fall based on all of our recommendations.

So just think back on any frustrations looking for bike parking in the past year and make sure to post your suggestions!

August 29, 2013 at 9:33 am Leave a comment

Bike Technical Committee of the MUTCD Comes to Portland

MUTCD coverAh, the great MUTCD! Full name being the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices - the standard reference for all road signs and pavement symbols used on roads in the United States.

Normally I don’t get too excited about this particular and exhaustive resource, but last week a number of us who are local bike advocates got to experience a little taste of the work of the National Commitee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) – the national group of private and public sector experts that helps the Federal Highway Administration maintain and update the MUTCD.  They meet twice yearly to conduct business related to the manual – with quite a bit of work on details in between – and their Summer 2013 meeting happened to be held in our beloved Portland.

(As an aside, I chuckled when some committee representatives from the other Portland introduced themselves simply as “from the City of Portland”, apparently feeling no need to tack on “Oregon” even though they were sitting in the heart of the city of Portland, Maine.  One of our local transportation planners introduced himself as being from “the original Portland”, which was fabulous.:)

Photo by James D. Schwartz - Creative Commons

Photo by James D. Schwartz – Creative Commons

What most claimed the attention of those of us into bicycling was the chance to attend the meetings of the Bicycle Technical Committee (BTC) – which considers and makes recommendations on bike-related MUTCD infrastructure.  The folks in the room clearly had great experience and a vast working knowledge of transportation research, standards and practices.

For this go-round the BTC was looking at proposals regarding items (some of them controversial), such as:

  • signage to accommodate cyclists through road construction projects
  • bicycle-specific traffic signals (which they’ve had for years in California and Oregon but for various reasons have yet to be formally adopted by the MUTCD)
  • bike boxes to bring bicyclists to the front of the cue at intersections (same situation as previous bullet)
  • alternate bike lane ends/bikes merging signage

NCUTCD Vets BridgePlus we got to take a bike facilities tour of Portland and share some meals with members of the Bike Technical Committee – lots of fun and you can see more photos from various members of the group in this Facebook album posted by John Brooking, local Bicycle Coalition of Maine board member and Cycling Savvy educator.  One of the few female members of the BTC, Michelle DeRobertis of Oakland, CA even invited us out for Bike Karaoke – you have to check out her great lyrics and parodies of songs, all having to do with walking and biking!  [Note: Joe Stafford, another BTC member has since shared "Shift, Shift", an original re-write performed only once at the 2001 Thunderhead Alliance Retreat in Leavenworth, WA.  What folks come up with - it's great!] 

Most encouraging was how diverse the group was in its consideration of bike facilities – i.e., they didn’t want to adopt just anything.  A number of the members of the committee have specific concerns about the safety and proper construction of “good” bicycle infrastructure (e.g., that doesn’t set up bicyclists to be doored or to get right-hooked by cars turning at intersections).  And all seemed able to reach consensus or vote their consciences.

BTC Meeting roomOf course that same thoughtful and lengthy consideration and descent into minutiae is likely to drive both committee members and the general public a little crazy.  As a transportation planner and a Quaker, I generally hold with the idea that we need to ”go slow to go fast” – but I could tell there were plenty of folks in the room who would like to see the process move a lot faster.

Regardless, it was a real education.  Many thanks to the NCUTCD Bike Technical Committee for the camaraderie and the chance to participate!

July 1, 2013 at 7:15 pm Leave a comment

Bike from the Train: New Bike Rental at the Portland Transportation Center!

ZagsterI had heard this might be coming but wasn’t sure when – and now it’s here (well, in a couple of days)!

Starting June 1, 2013, bike rentals (via Zagster) will be available at the Portland Transportation Center for just $20 per day. Simply sign up at www.Zagster.com/Downeaster, get a text, unlock a bike, and ride.

A new easy option for travelers and locals alike!

Other bike rental options in the area include via:

Others, anyone?

Also, there aren’t any peer-to-peer bike rentals listed on Spinlister in the Portland area yet, so you should list yours if you’ve got one you’re not riding much!

May 30, 2013 at 2:34 pm Leave a comment

Feel Confident Riding in Traffic with a Cycling Savvy Course!

Cycling Savvy courses offered in Maine for riders of all abilities are NOT to be missed!  Here’s more on offerings this summer from the fabulous John Brooking, lead organizer of the Portland Bike Commuting Meetup:

“One of the biggest challenges we always come back to as commuters is the dreaded riding around cars. I started commuting by bike with a vague sense that I was supposed to pretty much obey the same rules as car drivers, but with zero knowledge  of how that actually played out on a bike. As I’ve learned how to co-exist with cars over the years, through a combination of experience, informal education in Internet and personal discussions, and finally in actual bicycling classes, I’ve come to regard cyclist education as one of the most important means of empowerment for a commuting cyclist. There will always be jerks on the road, and there will never be bicycle-specific infrastructure that goes to every single destination, but with just a little education, a cyclist can truly be empowered to go anywhere, even with the jerks and without the infrastructure.

That’s why my mission over the last few years has increasingly been focused on cyclist education. For the third year, I am again offering sessions of the CyclingSavvy curriculum in the Portland area. This curriculum was created in Orlando, Florida, in 2009, and now has certified instructors in 11 states including Maine.

If you need to get more comfortable with your bike, the “Train Your Bike” skills sessions will help you do that. The full package adds a classroom session to give you knowledge of the laws, crash causes and avoidance, and techniques for sharing the road respectfully but safely, followed by a leisurely-paced on-road Tour of Portland where we put all the knowledge and the skills together in the real world.

Even if you have been riding around town for some time, you will still learn something from this class. I know I did. [Editor's Note: me, too!] Experienced and beginning riders alike testify to how CyclingSavvy has helped them. A graduate of a 2011 Portland class and Meetup member Michie O’Day writes “I took the Cycling Savvy course when I first resumed cycling after a 30-year hiatus. The most important thing I gained from it is perspective. I now realize that I’m part of the traffic moving on the road.  I practice the strategies I learned in class every time I ride.”

The CyclingSavvy tag line is “Empowerment for Unlimited Travel”, and I believe that’s true. As a transportational cyclist, this course will give you the tools to get anywhere you need to go by bike, safely and confidently. If you ride around town every day, or would like to, taking this course is one of the most important steps you can take to make your bicycle travel a better experience.”

The next course will be held June 21-22 in Portland. See here for details, registration, and evolving course offereings through the summer months.

May 23, 2013 at 8:20 pm

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94 Beckett Street, Second Floor Portland, ME 04101
sarah@sarahcushman.com www.sarahcushman.com (207)200-1910

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